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  • U.S. Coast Guard Signs $117 Million Contract for Small Unmanned Aircraft

    June 13, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Security

    U.S. Coast Guard Signs $117 Million Contract for Small Unmanned Aircraft

    Boeing subsidiary Insitu just inked a $117 million contract to provide small unmanned aircraft systems services across the fleet of U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutters. The award for the Insitu ScanEagle UAS was finalized late last week and announced on Monday. The contract covers installation and deployment of the system, and provides 200 hours of flight time per 30-day patrol, according to the company. The contract marks the end of what had become a multi-year testing process for the Coast Guard to find an unmanned aircraft to assist with its ongoing mission to stop drug smuggling and human trafficking. “The UAS has already proven itself to be a transformational technology, and the deployment of this capability to the entirety of the [National Security Cutter] fleet is an incredibly important first step in realizing the Coast Guard's vision of fleet-wide UAS implementation,” Cmdr. Daniel Broadhurst, unmanned aircraft systems division chief in the Office of Aviation Forces, said in a statement. A draft request for proposal was released in March 2017 after the service hadn't found an existing platform that met the Coast Guard's needs, USNI News previously reported. The RFP had stated the Coast Guard was looking for a “persistent, tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability that can remain airborne for at least twelve hours per day.” The Coast Guard had been using ScanEagle in a limited basis when the system deployed aboard USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752). The Coast Guard credits ScanEagle with helping Stratton's crew interdict an estimated $165 million worth of cocaine during a two month period in 2017. “When ScanEagle initially deployed with the Stratton, we recognized what an incredible opportunity we had to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard to bring dynamic improvements to mission effectiveness and change aviation history,” Don Williamson, Insitu Defense vice president and general manager, said in a statement. ScanEagle can remain aloft for more than 24 hours, can cruise at 55 knots with a maximum speed of 90 knots, and has service ceiling of 15,000 feet, according to Insitu. The system is shot from a pneumatic launcher and recovered using a hook and arresting wire. ScanEagle is 8.2-feet long and has a 16-foot wingspan. Insitu plans to start installing ScanEagle hardware on USCGC James (WMSL-754) this fall, then on USCGC Munro (WHEC-724) in early 2019, and on USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750) in late spring or early summer 2019.

  • Defence Investment Plan 2018

    June 11, 2018 | Information, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Defence Investment Plan 2018

    The Defence Capabilities Blueprint (DCB), accessible through a new online tool, is now available, and offers access to information related to defence investment opportunities. Like the previous Defence Acquisition Guide, the DCB provides industry access to planning information such as funding ranges and project timelines. Information on approximately 250 projects funded under Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) including infrastructure projects, as well as significant in-service support contracts is available for industry to plan for and compete in defence procurement opportunities. With this information, industry will be able to make informed research and development (R&D) and strategic partnering decisions based on projected needs of the Canadian Armed Forces. Within the DCB the following are found: Projects: Capital equipment or infrastructure projects with a value of over $5 million that are planned and funded under SSE Support Contracts: In-service support contracts and professional services contracts with an expected value of greater than $20 million that will be awarded in the coming years to support the capabilities being delivered under SSE SSE projects which are noted and identified The DCB includes a key word search function and segments investment opportunities into searchable components by: Defence Capability Areas (DCAs) Defence Capability Investment Areas (DCIAs) Project sponsors Key Industrial Capabilities (KICs) Defence Capability Areas (DCAs) are 13 broad component categories, such as Land, Sea, Air, Space and Cyber. These categories are further comprised of smaller constituent components of more than 150 Defence Capability Investment Areas (DCIAs). Examples of DCIAs are Commercial Pattern Vehicles, Ship Parts and Components, or Avionics. Projects may include more than one DCA and several DCIAs. Project Sponsors are the service command level or civilian equivalent organizations within Department of National Defence (DND). Projects and investment opportunities are also searchable under Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's Key Industrial Capabilities (KICs). These capability areas inform industry about which key business activities are government priorities in defence procurement. Finally there is an Advanced Search capability that allows the user to filter their searches into specific parameters.

  • House panel unveils $674.6B Pentagon spending bill

    June 11, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    House panel unveils $674.6B Pentagon spending bill

    BY REBECCA KHEEL - 06/06/18 12:39 PM EDT The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unveiled its $674.6 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal 2019. The bill would provide $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding, which is about $900 million less than the Trump administration requested but $17.1 billion more than this year's spending level. The bill would also provide $68.1 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. “With the changing global dynamics and ever-growing threats to our security, it is absolutely imperative that our military is properly trained, equipped and fully supported in order to do their jobs,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said in a statement. “This legislation does all of this by including robust funding for our troops, the defense programs and activities necessary to accomplish our national goals and ideals, and to continue to rebuild our military.” The money would pay for a boost of 15,600 troops across the military and a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members, both matching what was requested by the administration. The bill would also provide $145.7 billion for equipment purchases and upgrades. That's split $133 billion for base requirements — or $2.5 billion more than requested — and $12.7 billion in OCO. The procurement money includes $22.7 billion for 12 new Navy ships, two more ships than the administration requested. The two extra ships are littoral combat ships, which Congress continues to support buying — despite the Navy's plan to transition away from the ship — so that shipyards keep working and will be able to keep pace on future orders. The bill would also fund a slew of aircraft, including $9.4 billion for 93 F-35 fighter jets and $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft. The bill includes funding for the procurement of 16 more F-35s than requested. The plane is built by Lockheed Martin in defense appropriations subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger's (R-Texas) district. Granger said the bill is an extension of last year's efforts to address readiness shortfalls. “It is a product of countless meetings and briefings with our military leaders and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the U.S. military is the strongest, most capable military in the world,” she said in a statement. “Our military must have the resources it needs to respond to and deter threats from countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, and also counter violent extremists throughout the world.”

  • State of Canada's Defence Industry 2018

    May 25, 2018 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    State of Canada's Defence Industry 2018

    Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) joined forces with the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) to publicly release a new report on Canada's defence industry for decision makers. Features of the report include building analytic capacity through collaborative research, economic impact, innovation, exports, and supply chains analysis.

  • Japan focuses on maritime security in new ocean policy

    May 15, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, C4ISR, Security

    Japan focuses on maritime security in new ocean policy

    Japan approved Tuesday a new ocean policy that highlights maritime security, amid perceived growing threats from North Korea and China, in a reversal from the previous version which focused largely on sea resource development. The ocean program cited threats from North Korea's launching of ballistic missiles, and operations by Chinese vessels around the Japan-controlled and China-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. “Amid an increasingly severe maritime situation, the government will come together to protect our territorial waters and interests at sea,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a meeting of the government panel on ocean policy. The contents of the third Basic Plan on Ocean Policy are expected to be reflected in the government's defense buildup guidelines that are set to be revised in December. Since its first adoption in 2008, the ocean policy has been reviewed every five years. The policy pointed out that the maritime security situation facing the nation is “highly likely to deteriorate, if no measure is taken.” The government also plans to make use of coastal radar equipment, aircraft and vessels from the Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard, as well as high-tech optical satellites of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to strengthen the nation's intelligence gathering abilities. The policy underscores the need for cooperation between the coast guard and the Fisheries Agency to enhance responses to illegal operations by North Korea and fishing vessels from other countries, amid a surge in the number of such cases in the waters surrounding Japan. To ensure sea lane safety, it also stipulates the government's promotion of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy advocated by Abe for maintaining and strengthening a free and open order in the region based on the rule of law.

  • New Pentagon research chief is working on lasers, AI, hypersonic munitions and more

    April 26, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    New Pentagon research chief is working on lasers, AI, hypersonic munitions and more

    By: Todd South The new chief for research in the Pentagon is building an artificial intelligence center, pushing for self-driving vehicles in combat zones and more powerful lasers, and says solving the hypersonic gap means updating testing facilities. Defense Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin testified before the House Armed Services Committee last week, answering questions on a range of gear and procurement questions. But those most relevant to service members included weapons systems on the horizon that troops could see in combat with near peer adversaries. More rapid development will include the use of unmanned ground vehicles in formations. The Army recently announced the 10th Mountain Division and the 101st Airborne Division will have a robotic combat vehicle called the Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport in the ranks this year for testing, which will develop the likely full-fielding gear mule-type robot. Simple tasks, such as delivering food, mail, water and fuel, could be automated sooner than some think, Griffin said. “I think, frankly, we're going to have self-driving vehicles in theater for the Army before we'll have self-driving cars on the streets,” Griffin said. “If that can be done by an automated unmanned vehicle with a relatively simple AI driving algorithm where I don't have to worry about pedestrians and road signs and all of that, why wouldn't I do that?” Griffin pointed to Chinese systems that have been fielded or can be soon fielded that can launch a strike and reach out “thousands of kilometers” from the Chinese shore and “hold our carrier battle groups or forward deployed forces on land” at risk. “We, today, do not have systems which can hold them at risk in a corresponding manner, and we don't have defenses against those systems,” Griffin told the House Armed Services Committee members on April 18. Another Chinese technology threat includes the nation's development of swarm drone technologies to counter U.S. airpower and other strengths. That means getting powerful laser systems up to snuff. But it won't happen tomorrow. “We need to have 100-kilowatt-class weapons on Army theater vehicles. We need to have 300-kilowatt-class weapons on Air Force tankers,” Griffin said. “We need to have megawatt-class directed energy weapons in space for space defense. These are things we can do over the next decade if we can maintain our focus.” Scientists he's been talking with have told him that level of laser power is five to six years away and a “megawatt laser” is within a decade with persistent investment. ‘An unacceptable situation' Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., pointed out that the testing facilities, such as White Sands Missile Range in his state, have scarcely seen any upgrades or improvements in the past two decades, despite leaps in technology for missiles, lasers and other items. Griffin agreed, saying at a low estimate at least 20 such testing facilities across the nation are in the same situation. He said the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency does most of the leading-edge work on hypersonic missile systems and they have exactly one testing facility, a NASA wind tunnel near Langley, Virginia. “This is an unacceptable situation,” Griffin said. He promised to return with budget requests to renovate those facilities to improve testing. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., asked about a new area of focus that has broad-reaching effects: artificial intelligence. Griffin oversees the creation of a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center that would create AI solutions for all the service branches. He deferred on the details but told members that he expected to return with a plan within two months. “We owe the Congress a report, I think, about two months from now on what our A.I. strategy will be. And the JAIC, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, will be a part of that overall strategy,” Griffin said. The plan must consider the 592 projects across the Defense Department that have AI as part of their development.

  • Defense intelligence chief: ‘A lot of technology remains untapped’

    April 26, 2018 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Defense intelligence chief: ‘A lot of technology remains untapped’

    by Sandra Erwin Kernan: Project Maven so far has been “extraordinarily” useful in processing intelligence but more capabilities are needed. TAMPA, FLA. — Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan, a retired Navy vice admiral, is rarely seen or heard at public events. But he decided to step on the stage and address the nation's largest gathering of geospatial intelligence professionals to relay a message that the military is in the market for cutting-edge technology. “The reason I agreed to speak is that a lot of capacity and technology remains untapped,” Kernan said in a keynote speech on Monday at the GEOINT symposium. DoD collects loads of data from satellites, drones and Internet-of-things devices. But it needs help making sense of the intelligence and analyzing it quickly enough so it can be used in combat operations. It needs powerful artificial intelligence software tools that the tech industry is advancing at a past pace. The most promising AI effort the Pentagon has going now is Project Maven. Military analysts are using Google-developed AI algorithms to mine live video feeds from drones. With machine learning techniques, software is taught to find particular objects or individuals at speeds that would be impossible for any human analyst. Kernan said Project Maven only started a year ago and so far has been “extraordinarily” useful in overseas operations. “I would have liked to have had it in my past,” said Kernan, a former special operations commander. There is such heightened interest in AI that the Pentagon got Project Maven approved and under contract in two months. More importantly, said Kernan, the “capability was tested overseas. Not in the Pentagon.” For AI algorithms to be valuable to the military, they have to produce relevant intelligence, he cautioned. “Don't be developing capability to serve warfighters while sitting in the Pentagon. Make sure you address their needs by working with the forces out there. That's key to Project Maven. It works with users.” Software, no matter how advanced, will not replace human analysts, said Kernan. “It's about enabling analysts to use their cognitive process so they don't have to jam and finger push things into a computer.” What annoys Kernan? “That we really haven't taken all the advantage we can of technology.” That may be about to change as DoD ramps up AI efforts. Defense procurement chief Ellen Lord said the Pentagon will start bringing together AI projects that already exist but do not necessarily share information or resources. “We have talked about taking over 50 programs and loosely associating those,” Lord told reporters. “We have many silos of excellence.” Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin will oversee a new AI office that will bring in “elements of the intelligence community,” he said. But many details remain to be worked out. The speed at which the Pentagon moved with Project Maven is “truly groundbreaking,” said Mike Manzo, director of intelligence, threat and analytic solutions at General Dynamics Mission Systems. The company provides training and advisory services to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. “This community is not accustomed to rapid acquisition, and rapid deployment,” Manzo told SpaceNews. “I applaud the Project Maven staff, the government, and everybody who is involved with that.” Another reason Project Maven is “disruptive” is that it shows that analysts are beginning to trust new sources of intelligence and nontraditional methods, Manzo said. “What's encouraging is that the outputs of these systems are being trusted by the users,” he said. “A machine comes up with an answer and the human gives the thumbs up or down,” he said. “If DoD is trusting this, it's a tremendous step.” Even though a human is supervising, the focus doesn't have to be on “making sure the machine is doing the things I asked the machine to do.” None of this means decisions are being made by computers, Manzo said. “But these technologies help optimize the human analyst to do what they are really good at: intuition.” As the Pentagon seeks ways to bring AI into the battlefield, “Maven has a lot of promise.”

  • Driving job creation and innovation in Canada through defence spending

    April 23, 2018 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Driving job creation and innovation in Canada through defence spending

    Canada positioned to lead globally in five emerging technology areas while building on its strengths April 23, 2018, Ottawa Canada has a strong and innovative defence industry with over 650 companies that employ more than 60,000 Canadians. One way the Government of Canada supports this industry is the Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy, which requires that for every dollar it spends on big defence purchases, the winning contractor must put a dollar back into Canada's economy. In the past 30 years, the ITB Policy has generated investments of $30 billion in Canada's economy, and generates around 40,000 jobs annually. Through Canada's defence policy, Strong Secure, Engaged, defence purchases are being used to unlock billions of dollars in economic benefits and create middle-class jobs. To maximize these opportunities, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today announced that the government will use the ITB Policy to motivate defence contractors to invest in Key Industrial Capabilities (KIC). These are five areas of Canadian industrial strength in emerging technologies, which have the potential to grow quickly, and 11 established industrial capabilities where Canada is globally competitive or where domestic capacity is essential to national security: Emerging technologies Advanced materials Artificial intelligence Cyber resilience Remotely piloted systems and autonomous technologies Space systems Leading competencies and critical industrial services Aerospace systems and components Armour Defence systems integration Electro-optical and infrared systems Ground vehicle solutions In-service support Marine ship-borne mission and platform systems Munitions Shipbuilding, design and engineering services Sonar and acoustic systems Training and simulation Key Industrial Capabilities align with the government's Innovation and Skills Plan by supporting the development of skills and fostering innovation in Canada's defence sector. Quotes “Our defence industry asked for a list of Key Industrial Capabilities, and we delivered. As a result of promoting investment in areas with potential for rapid growth, our armed forces will be better equipped, we will have a stronger economy and we will create thousands of middle-class jobs.” – The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development “Canada's defence industry welcomes Key Industrial Capabilities as an important policy tool to strengthen our government-industry partnership. KICs will incentivize strategic investments in existing and emerging defence and security capability where Canada has leading-edge and globally competitive technologies. The capabilities identified today demonstrate the world-class, innovation-led nature of the defence and security industry here in Canada.” – Christyn Cianfarani, President and CEO, Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries “By defining its Key Industrial Capabilities, the government has provided another significant instrument for leveraging public procurements to increase investment in areas of Canadian industrial strength and opportunity. The strong aerospace presence in the KICs identified by the government today illustrates the strength of our industry, as well as its potential to continue building its competitive advantage in the years ahead. We are very pleased that the government has identified its KICs, and congratulate Minister Bains on the successful launch of this important procurement tool.” – Jim Quick, President and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada Quick facts The list of Key Industrial Capabilities will evolve over time to reflect technological advances and changing defence requirements and will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Adoption of these Key Industrial Capabilities was first recommended in the 2013 report, Canada First: Leveraging Defence Procurement Through Key Industrial Capabilities (also known as “The Jenkins Report”). The defence industry is both innovative, with an R&D intensity 4.5 times the Canadian manufacturing average, and export-oriented, with 60 percent of its sales in 2016 taking place in the global market. From 1986 to 2016, the overall portfolio of ITB obligations included 137 contracts valued at $41.5 billion, with $28.3 billion in business activities already completed, $9.4 billion of activities in progress and $3.8 billion in unidentified future work opportunities. Associated links Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy Key Industrial Capabilities Defence Acquisition Guide 2016 Strong Secure, Engaged Innovation and Skills Plan Canada First: Leveraging Defence Procurement Through Key Industrial Capabilities Contacts Follow the department on Twitter: @ISED_CA Karl W. Sasseville Press Secretary Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development 343-291-2500 Media Relations Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada 343-291-1777

  • The unlikely tool that’s improving physical security at military bases

    April 23, 2018 | International, Security

    The unlikely tool that’s improving physical security at military bases

    By: Adam Stone From their perch in the operations center at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., security analysts peer down like hawks over the Naval Research Lab, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and a half-dozen other major military installations scattered around the national capital region. It takes just 10 people to maintain constant surveillance over all those disparate sites, “but you need machines to help you,” said Robert Baker, command information officer for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. Those machines include a complex network of cameras and sensors, supported by analytics software. When the software spots a suspect event – traffic headed in the wrong direction, for example – that video feed gets pushed to the foreground for human analysis. This is just one example of how the military looks to technology to improve physical security. The real-world influence of technology is evident across the military: Everything from targeting systems to logistics to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance has been enhanced in some way by IT. Physical security represents an emerging frontier, where artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous technologies and other advances could give the military an edge. Force multiplier At Edwards Air Force Base in California last summer, a security team installed a ground-based radar system to monitor a wide landscape using electro-optical and infrared sensors. The team turned to technology to give them insight across a massive 308,000-acre facility. “The driving need for this system is to proactively defend Edwards AFB. Given the mission of Edwards, and how much terrain we have, we need a system that can overcome the difficulties of patrolling the vast amount of land Edwards presents to our patrols,” Staff Sgt. Alexander Deguzman, an installation security technician with the 412th security forces squadron said in a news release. As at the Navy Yard, the effort at Edwards is all about using some combination of remote sensing, networked surveillance and machine intelligence to create a force multiplier in physical security. Analysts say such initiatives could make bases and installations markedly safer at a lower cost and with less labor required. The rise of artificial intelligence is a critical technology moving forward. Security often involves the constant observation of multiple video and data feeds for prolonged periods of time. Human analysts get tired. They look away for a moment. In short, they miss stuff. “A human can look at things once or twice, but after 100 times they start to lose their edge,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bob Elder, chair of the cyber and emerging technologies division at the National Defense Industrial Association. “AI goes beyond what a human can do, because it doesn't get tired.” Elder envisions a future in the near-term in which routine surveillance can be carried out by software-supported machines, with computers scanning for anomalies and alerting human analysts to potential threats. That saves on labor. In addition, such as approach also would allow the military to use less highly-skilled operators, relying instead on the machine's expertise and accuracy. Eyes in the sky Industry's interest in this subject has helped bring AI and autonomy to the fore as potential security assets. With the rise of the drones and the imminent arrival of driverless cars, some experts are looking to autonomy as the next logical step in military security. Drones alone don't offer a security fix: Their batteries run down too fast. The military might however consider the use of tethered drones, autonomous ISR assets that can hover in place and remain attached to a power source for ongoing operations. Put one at each corner of a base camp and leaders can put together a big-picture view of any approaching hazard. “This kind of solution is really smart, because you can constantly feed it power, you don't have to worry about it flying away, and if someone tries to damage it or take control of it, you know about it right away,” said Steve Surfaro, chairman of the Security Industry Association public safety working group. Another key industry trend, biometrics, may also point the way forward on physical security. “Investing in facial recognition software ... can improve perimeter security by automating aspects of it to speed up entry to bases for those authorized and focus screening attention on those that represent a risk,” according to a Deloitte report on smart military bases titled “Byting the Bullet.” The networking needs To make the most of the technological imperative around security, experts say, the military will have to give serious thought to issues of infrastructure. Security is becoming a data function: Sensor streams, video feeds, drone surveillance and other methodologies all will require robust network support and substantial compute resources. The data will need to flow freely, even in great quantities, with ample processing available to put it to use. Much of the processing will be done in the cloud, “but you still need to have a reliable connection to that cloud, which means you want diversity and redundancy. At a minimum you want two connections and ideally you want three ways of doing it – wires, line of sight wireless, and satellite,” Elder said. “You need a reliable way to get to your cloud services.” Such an implementation will require, at the least, a significant amount of bandwidth. At the Navy Yard, Baker said he is able to overcome that hurdle through thoughtful network design. In other words: Rather than pushing all the information back to the operations center for processing, new video and sensor analytics takes place on the edge, shrinking the overall networking demand. “The more processing you can do at the edge of the network, the less robust your network needs to be,” he said. Efficient network design weeds out routine activity “and then the really interesting information is being sent for human analysis.” While emerging technologies can enhance the military's security operations, some argue that IT capabilities are not, in themselves, a rationale for upgrading systems that may already be meeting mission. Budgetary constraints apply. “You could make processing faster, but what is the threat that we are trying to counter? If we are seeing zero incidents, why we would gold-plate that area? We want to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars,” Baker said. “At the same time, if there was some high-risk area where we needed to do that better, we would absolutely want to put resources against that.”

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